Ella (Kate Daly) has lived a very sheltered life. She has not had many friends, been intimate with boys or ventured too far form the safety of her home. Her mother Patricia (Meredith Heinrich) kept a watchful eye on Ella setting things up so they're each other's only friend. Ella is now at Tellmont University and looking for things to change. She is starting to develop urges as she settles in to her Psychology 101 class with Professor Douglas (Michael Madsen). Professor Douglas challenges his students in an untraditional manner. His assignment for the year; do something that breaks a sexual norm. Ella thinks at first it might mean to consider dancing at a strip club but soon realizes that her urges are really a bloodlust that can only be satisfied by killing male members of the population in her town.
At the same time Ella starts a relationship with classmate Daniel (Dennis Andres) who is kind, respectful and not a target of Ella's bloodthirst. But the relationship remains secondary to her desire to cut into flesh with a sharp edged knife. The most curious reaction comes from her mother who sees her daughter come home covered in blood on more than one occasion choosing to help her clean up once she is sure that her child is not injured. Her actions remind her of similar activities she performed for Ella's father up until she was pregnant and had to put some distance between him and her baby.
Director Nathan Oliver tells a horror story that has a strong comedic spine. Oliver also shares a writing credit with the films producer Albert Melamed. The dialogue portrays a playful and seductive heroine who's internal debates on whether or not to strike are more amusing than chilling. The narrative gives just enough back story on Ella's father to give some reasoning behind her sudden turn towards violence and her mothers blinding support of her activities.
Kate Daly shines as the titular character. She plays timid good girl, seductive temptress, attentive student and psychotic killer at different points in the film. The inner dialogue device and dream sequences allow her to play good and bad at the same time. Meredith Heinrich is solid as Ella's mom. He unconditional support of her daughter and her dad before demonstrates a duality of being used or encouraging the behaviour with her silence. Look for Malcolm McDowell as creepy neighbour Gerald. Usually armed with his pruning shears Gerald has the habit of staring at Ella inappropriately and uttering phrases to her that are better off kept private.
Lady Psycho Killer is a slasher movie with a twist. The killer is proud of her work, wants to show it off and expects an A in Psych 101 for her efforts. The film benefits from a charismatic lead actor and a narrative that bends away from tradition. It's good messy fun that I can recommend.
*** Out of 4.
Lady Psycho Killer | Nathan Oliver | Canada / U.S.A. | 2015 | 82 Minutes.
Tags: Serial Killer, University, Strip Club, Disco, Stuffed Animals, Knife, Psych 101, Class Assignment.